It's officially 2007 and I am officially calling for Congress to pass a law making it legal for me to murder people who write checks in public places.
In this miraculous day and age, a world of Blackberries and Bluetooth and eBarns (Amish 2.0), there is absolutely, positively, without a doubt no reason whatsoever to write checks at major stores. We've got credit cards, debit cards, cash, gift certificates, and hundreds of thousands of other ways to pay for stuff, all of which fall into the lovely category of "not being checks." Hell, you can even buy those fake credit cards from American Express which are charged a $10 "activation fee" and a $5 "courtesy usage fee," along with a yearly $3.95 "annual excitement fee," a complimentary $6.22 "thank you for just being you fee," and the obligatory $12.35 "refusal to blow up the card and render your nervous system incapacitated fee." I bought a $100 American Express Gift Card for my mother on Christmas, and when she went to purchase a pack of gum with it, the cashier explained to her that, after paying all the fees and activation dues, she would only owe American Express a total of $49.32 and two (2) Caucasian fetuses. What a heck of a deal!
There's no reason or logic behind the use of checks anymore. I was shopping at the Hy-Vee off Third Street in Lee's Summit a couple days ago, and was prepared to pay for my chili peppers and leave. I began scanning the snakelike long lines, and spotted one with only a single person waiting. Rushing behind her, I had unknowingly fallen for the oldest trick in the book:
RULE OF SHOPPING #274 - The length of a checkout line in a grocery store is directly proportion to the total IQ of all people in that line.
That is to say, if there are around three people waiting to purchase groceries, you can assume they are all of average intelligence. Unfortunately, if there's only one person ahead of you, that individual will invariably be legally retarded and incapable of spelling out their own initials without requiring extensive third party assistance.
It goes without saying that these people will use checks.
RULE OF SHOPPING #138 - The percentage chance a person will pay with a check can be determined by the following equation:
CHANCE OF CHECK WRITING = (their age) + ((number of cats they own) * (number of grandchildren they have))
The Hy-Vee here is blessed by being located near a major retirement center, the John Knox Village Neighborhood of Dementia and Wasted Dreams. Every 20 minutes, a small white bus crawling with countless skin mites hauls a fresh new rotting batch of elderly folks to the grocery store, where they amble around confused, pointing at bean cans and muttering to themselves about Jesus. These people have somehow been brainwashed by the John Knox Village staff into falsely thinking they aren't deceased, and that somehow grants them the same set of rights as the rest of us normal people. I got new for you, old people: once you turn 70 or so, you aren't members of the human race anymore. You're liches, and you're most assuredly NOT protected by our glorious Constitution of the United States of America, which is reserved for moist, middle-aged white people like myself.
These plodding, horrible entities clog the aisles of Hy-Vee like White Castle hamburger grease in my arteries. As I was shopping and turned down the frozen foods aisle, I suddenly discovered I was knee deep in the Polydent; a John Knox couple, seemingly joined at their bloated midwestern fractured hips, was in the process of consuming every available inch of space midway down the lane. Their lingering scent of internal organ decay mixed with a damp and overbearing cloud of humid pull up black sock sweat began to overtake me, and the chance of me ever passing them began fading by the nanosecond. I decided to cut my losses and turn around, but fate had another trick up its sleeve: a gaggle of jagged, crippled corpses had assembled together behind me, preventing my hasty retreat. I was stuck behind the Old Couple and an army of jabbering scarecrow creatures summoned by a vile necromancer.
Now there's this phenomenon with old people that's been documented by scientists countless times. You can see it yourself when driving by a retirement home or Beach Boys concert. When one group of elderly people approach within a 20-foot radius of another group of elderly people, their brainwaves instantly synchronize to the same wavelength, granting them the ability to telepathically communicate absolutely worthless messages to each other. These messages are almost always boring and inconsequential, along the lines of:
ELDERLY PERSON #1: "Boy it's hot today... isn't it hot today?"
ELDERLY PERSON #2: "Hot... you said it. It's hot."
ELDERLY PERSON #1: "Hotter than it was yesterday, that's for sure."
ELDERLY PERSON #2: "Yesterday... it was hot then."
ELDERLY PERSON #1: "You betcha. But not as hot as it is today."
ELDERLY PERSON #2: "Oh that's for sure."
In addition to meaningful comments regarding the temperature and / or humidity, elderly people can telepathically synchronize the "acceptable" traveling speed of the day for old people. This can apply to both driving speeds (23 miles an hour on city streets, 57 miles an hour on the highway) and walking speeds (slightly slower than a cat lacking all legs and a head). So when the two groups of near-dead veterans of the Civil War entered range of each other, they immediately settled on an ideal shuffling speed, trapping me between their rancid masses and forcing me to adopt the same velocity. I was the white meat wedged in between two slices of moldy flaking skin bread.
RULE OF SHOPPING #214 - The total amount of total time spent in a grocery store is inversely proportional to the number of items you plan on purchasing.
Roughly nine hours and several conversations regarding the quality of AM talk radio later, I had reached the end of the aisle and swung out from the interior of my failure sandwich, careening into an "express" checkout aisle populated by a single overweight elderly woman buying a bag of oranges and milk. "All right," I thought to myself. "Finally, I can get the hell out of this skeletal wasteland." Of course you know where this goes from here.
CASHIER: "The total is $5.48. Will you be paying with cash or charge?"
OLD WOMAN WHO I SERIOUSLY SUSPECT IS DEAD: "Oh dear. No cash or charge. I've got a check honey. Let me just find my checkbook. It's somewhere in this purse, honey."
At this point we take a brief five-minute timeout as Ethel inspects every cubic inch of her purse and repeats each item she encounters. "Hmmmm... keychain. Oh, Tic-Tacs. What is this... oh picture book. Hairpins. A pen. Another pen. Well what do you know!" The list continues. I black out. Upon regaining consciousness, the elderly woman remembers her checkbook is located in her jacket pocket. The pain continues.
Doesn't have any idea what the current date is? Check.
Needs the total amount of her purchase repeated back to her roughly 13,000 times and in several different languages, including Klingon? Check.
Has lost her pen, the store's pen, and every pen within a 10-mile radius? Check.
Finally locates a pen but then discovers it has run out of ink? Check.
Experiences crippling muscle ache, forcing her to stop while manually scrawling out the word "five"? Check.
Encounters insurmountable difficulty tearing the check out of the checkbook? Check (ha!).
Refuses to vacate the line until she's re-recorded this monumental transaction in her bank statement records, verified by three official sources and personally stamped by president of the bank himself? Check.
Let's face the cold hard truth here, ladies and gentlemen: folks who write checks have nothing to live for. They're society's waste. If you're still using checks in public stores then you're either elderly or brain damaged or possibly a combination of both. You're clinging to the wooden nickel. You're clutching the turbo button on your computer, hanging on to relics of the past. Let check-writing go. Come on you wacky new Democratic Congress: pass a law allowing us taxpaying citizens the right to form violent mobs and beat check-writers to death inside stores. If you guys don't start acting on this issue fast, I'll fight back by continuing to not vote for anybody for any election whatsoever. You scratch my back, I'll check yours.
Oh yeah, and to the cashier at Hy-Vee who asked me, "are you the guy who runs Something Awful?" I forgot your name, but this is your shout out. Word out to my peeps scanning infected John Knox groceries at da H-V.
Are you concerned that you may be a character trapped in a Tom Waits song? Be smart and learn the warning signs before it's too late. Also, it's too late. It has always been too late.
I'm haunted by a recurring vision of a skeleton flipping me off. To avoid seeing this terrifying image in bumper sticker form, I pay someone with a blank bumper to drive in front of me at all times.
The Hogosphere contains worthless ramblings from Rich "Lowtax" Kyanka. Crap that he's too lazy to make funny for the front page. Because he's lazy. And unfunny.